Your local library loves holidays. October ends with spooky Halloween and November comes creaking in with Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Our libraries are celebrating Dia de los Muertos with art programs, taught by Rachel-Anne Palacios.
During the holiday starting–November 1 and ending November 2–families may visit the cemetery after dark and light candles.
Before the program, Rachel showed us her altar of pictures, art and food celebrating loved ones.
Kids made masks and skeleton puppets, using all the colors of the rainbow. The masks included jaguars, butterflies and skulls. Skulls were an important symbol for the Aztecs and other Meso-Americans. They were symbols of death and rebirth. This holiday has been reborn each year and celebrated for 3000 years!
If you would like to remember friends and family on this special day, set up an altar and make some art, yourself.
If you’re good in the kitchen you can make some sugar skulls.
Calavera de Azúcar
How to Make Sugar Skulls (Calavera de Azúcar)
Traditional Day of the Dead Sugar Skulls are decorated with a rainbow of colored royal icing.
Gel food color
1/4 cup meringue powder
6 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
7 1/2 teaspoon meringue powder
6 teaspoons water
1 pound powdered sugar
Sugar Skulls (makes 4 medium 3-D skulls)
1. Mix the sugar, meringue powder and water together until all the granules of sugar are wet. Pick up a handful of the mixture and squeeze in your hand. If it holds together, its ready. If it falls apart, it will need a tiny bit more water.
2. Fill your skull mold with the wet sugar, pressing down on the sugar, compacting it as you go.
3. Fill both the front and back skull cavities with the sugar. Scrape off the excess sugar.
4. Cut a piece of parchment paper and a piece of cardboard just a bit bigger than your mold. Set the parchment paper down on top of the mold. Set the cardboard on top of the paper. Grab onto the mold and cardboard, and carefully flip the whole thing upside down. Set it on the counter, then carefully lift the mold up off the sugar skulls. The mold should pop right off. It the sugar sticks, its too wet. Scrape it out of the mold, clean the mold, and add some more dry sugar to the mixture and try molding it again. If your sugar skulls do not hold together, the mixtures needs more water.
5. Your sugar skulls now need to dry. Midway through the drying cycle you need to carefully flip them over so the back sides can dry out at well. They should be ready to decorate in 12-24 hours.
6. Make royal icing. Beat together powdered sugar, meringue powder, and water until its shiny and will hold stiff peaks.
7. Once your skulls are dried, spread a thin layer of royal icing on the flat part of the back side of each skull.
8. Allow the skulls to dry for at least an hour.
9. Your skulls are now ready to decorate. Color small bowls full of royal icing using food coloring. If you wont be using the icing right away, be sure to cover each bowl with plastic wrap.
10. Press the front and back sides together. Use your finger to wipe off the icing that oozes out from in between the two pieces.
11. Pipe royal icing onto the skulls. Any simple or elaborate designs. Get as creative as youd like and use lots of bright colors on each skull for a dramatic appearance.
12. Allow your sugar skulls to dry for several hours before using them as decorations for your Day of the Dead event.
If you would like to color and cut out a mask or skeleton, here are some possibilities.
Kermit says, “It isn’t easy being black and white. Color me green!”